Militants behind the attack on Malala Yousafzai and two other school girls have been identified and arrested, Director General of Inter Services Public Relations (DG ISPR) Asim Bajwa revealed in a press briefing on the ongoing military operation in North Waziristan.
The other two victims were Malala's classmates, Shazia and Qainat.
Bajwa stated that the 10 arrested militants had admitted to Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) commander Mullah Fazlullah being the mastermind of the attack on all three school girls.
Bajwa further revealed the names of the militants involved in the attacked, six of whom can be identified as Izharullah – who was the first man to be arrested in this case -- Asrar, Zafar Iqbal, Zafar Ali and Suleman.
"Zafar Iqbal, who owned a furniture shop in Swat, was the head of the 'Shura'. He followed the instructions of Fazlullah – who was present in Kunar province of Afghanistan," Bajwa said.
He said the arrested culprits would be tried in an anti-terrorism court.
“This was an intelligence-led operation, and police were also involved in the case,” Bajwa said, adding, “Ten of the arrested militants hail from Malakand.”
Bajwa added that the terrorists had also revealed that they had plans to murder 22 significant locals – including members of the Aman Committee and notables from Swat, mentioned in a list provided to them by Fazlullah.
The attack had taken place on October 9, 2012 during which two militants had identified Malala after which they opened fire on her. Following the attack on Malala, the militants proceeded to fire on the school van, injuring Shazia and Qainat as a result.
Reacting to the news, Malala's father in a statement said it was 'good news' not only for his family, but for people of Pakistan and the civilised world.
He said this first step of arresting the attackers signifies hope for hundreds of thousands of people whose lives have been affected by terrorism in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, in Swat and other parts of the country.
"We greatly appreciate the efforts of the security forces and police in bringing these men to justice and fighting for the reestablishment of peace. This is the beginning of the real restoration of the writ of the government, where the rule of law and justice prevails for all."
The DG ISPR said the ongoing Operation Zarb-e-Azb has been successful so far, stating that 45 ‘hardcore’ militants have been killed, while 134 ‘hardcore’ militants have been arrested in 2,200 operations.
"Over 1,000 militants have been killed in North Waziristan, and the updates are released on a daily basis," Bajwa said in response to a question.
"All militants involved in the attack on the Quaid-e-Azam Ziarat Residency have also been arrested. It was our big success, although it wasn't publicised much," the DG ISPR said.
Moreover, he added that the militants involved in the attack on Quetta Airport and Khalid Aviation Base have been killed. Additionally, militants involved in the Raiwind, Lahore and Naval Dockyard, Karachi attack have been arrested.
"A proper strategy is being chalked out in collaboration with the civilian government, and the operation will continue till the last militant is eliminated," he reiterated.
'Army has nothing to do with the government's affairs'
Moreover, in regard to the ongoing protests against the incumbent government being staged by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) in Islamabad, Bajwa said he "believes in the complete supremacy of the law and Constitution. The army facilitated in attempting to end the political deadlock in the greater national interest of the country."
"The army has nothing to do with the government's affairs," he added.
Further, referring to the attack on the premises of the PTV building during the clashes between the protesters and the Punjab police in the capital, he said it was the army's responsibility to protect buildings inside the Red Zone, not outside of it.
"The Red Zone was our responsibility, and the attack on the PTV Headquarters was not our fault," he said
"We are a force of Pakistan’s masses, and are always concerned whenever there is a crisis in the country. But we want to remain and operate within the Constitutional framework," he said, adding, "The army’s stance is clear; it’s a political issue and must be resolved politically."